Western & English Today

SOURCE 2015

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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JANUARY 2015 57 Know Your Audience Much has been written about millennials, the generation of Americans ranging in age from 18 to 34, and their younger counterparts, of en referred to as post-millennials, Generation Z or iGens, who are currently 17 and under. While both generations are still a "work in process," research already reveals their mindset and motivations. Millennials are of en described as conf dent, connected, self-expressive and as having a good relationship with their parents. Whereas millennials are thought to be optimistic, today's teens and tweens are more realistic. T is youngest generation understands how unpredictable the world can be, having grown up in a post-9/11 world, in the wake of the Great Recession and amid the very real threat of school violence. As a result, they tend to be more cautious, yet they remain resilient, inquisitive, globally aware and committed to solving problems. Both groups are described as digital natives, having never known a world without readily accessible technology. In a 2014 report, "Millennials in Adulthood," the Pew Research Center says millennials (and by extension, those even younger) have taken the lead in seizing the platforms of the digital era — the Internet, mobile technology, social media — to construct personalized networks of friends, colleagues and af nity groups. When it comes to youth within the Western and equine lifestyle, certain trends become even more pronounced. Chad Fairchild, vice president of Carroll Original Wear, says his rodeo business is part of a much larger leather-supply business. Back in 2001, when the company got into the Western niche, it targeted youth rodeo circuits, recognizing that kids represent the future for all. "We continue to be intrigued by Western youth," Fairchild says. "Across the board, they are universally respectful and extremely responsible. I am struck by how their parents make the necessary sacrif ces to support their dreams. It's incredible." Udy agrees. "Youth rodeo is a family event, so you are reaching extended families that come to support the kids. Parents are def nitely part of the bigger picture. Unlike some other activities, parents go to great lengths to be there and their kids appreciate it, rather than expect it." Build on Vendors' Investment s Happily, any retailer that decides to get involved with a rodeo or other youth-oriented event doesn't have to go it alone. Your vendors have already done much of the legwork for you and made the lion's share of the investment. T e key is in learning how to work together with vendors to achieve your mutual goals. "Every successful partnership starts with the people f rst," Fairchild says. "Once we have built a good relationship with our retailers, we can determine the right processes and products to meet everyone's needs. Our partners trust us and through that, we grow together." Once an ef ective partnership is in place, it helps to pay attention to the fundamentals. Grieve says successful partnerships start with timing. "We appreciate at least 90 days of lead time to develop a well-rounded promotion around events." All manufacturers involved agreed that working with and through the manufacturer's sales representative is good way to get the ball rolling. "It's essential to create a strategy around aligned goals with our partners. We work to provide a general framework, but we all need to be willing to let it develop with the event," Grieve says. When planning, think creatively about all the weapons in your combined arsenals. Many vendors have endorsees who can make guest appearances in your store. Vendors have also created ef ective POS displays to promote sponsorships. Ticket giveaways, in-arena visibility and signage, contests, tailgate parties at events,

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